It is just days to Christmas and I reckon it was timely for a gathering with some friends whom I’d gotten to know over Facebook, a good time to get together again since meet ups as such are far and few in between given everyone’s busy schedules. It is also good to be able to put a face to a name, transcending from online acquaintances to friends in real life. There have been quite a number of Christmas promotions running in our local restaurants and F&B establishments in hotels so we are literally spoilt for choices. Despite coming back from Melaka just a couple of days back, I still crave for good Peranakan food. A quick buzz over one of the Facebook groups I am active in and it didn’t take long for like-minded foodies to respond to the calling. We chose ‘The House of Indocafe’ as none of us have been here before. We thought it would be a good chance to try out their “Festive Ala Carte Buffet” menu which is currently running at their “White House” restaurant located just along the fringe of the Orchard Road shopping belt. It was a choice we grew to regret. Read on to find out why…
Peranakan cooking is a classic example of an amalgamation of the culinary cultures from many ethnic groups who have lived closely together in this region for hundreds of years. It likens a ”Creole Cuisine“ of the East, blending together influences from Malay, Chinese, Portuguese, Indonesian and Thai cooking all into a unique genre which we know today as “Straits Chinese cuisine”. Out of these influences came a myriad of dishes which have now become signatures of Straits Chinese cooking, whose names run analogous to the cuisine now. Ayam Masak Buah Keluak, Itek Tim, Babi Pongteh and Ikan Gerang Asam are some of the more iconic ones. Like many other Peranakan dishes, he Hee Pio soup has its origins in traditional Chinese cooking, particularly those from the southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. For many lovers of the cuisine, Hee Pio Soup is a simply must-have on the dining tables at family dinners, important gatherings, wedding celebrations and other joyous occasions where the “Tok Panjang” was served. While the concept of Tok Panjang has kind of waned and disappeared from the modern lifestyles of most Peranakan households, Hee Pio soup still makes its customary appearance whenever folks get together just to dine together in the company of one another.
For many, Chinese New Year is a time of feasts and festivities. This is when no reason is needed for pigging out with friends and family, or even gorging oneself crazy with a plethora of Chinese New Year goodies like pineapple tarts to bak kwa. Also, no excuse is required for enjoying the wide variety of Chinese New Year dishes, and most certainly no apologies is needed for indulging! How to resist all that good food?!
Last week, I attended an event hosted at Violet Oon’s Kitchen by Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore (APBS), an appreciation lunch prepared by Ms Oon and her team for 60 elderly folk from the Kreta Ayer Seniors Activity Centre who had extended their help towards packing cookies for the annual ‘Cookies for Charity’ Programme. This lunch was a way to reward them for their effort and boy ‘o boy were they in for a special treat of delectable Nyonya dishes in an all-Peranakan spread!